Tag Archives: College

Hooking Up: Good, Bad, or Something In-Between

1 Jan

My Take on Media’s New Obsession

Ok so let me preface this by stating, I am no PhD. I have never done any sociological studies, or scholarly research. This is just my take on “new” cultural “phenomena”- Hooking up has been around forever, whether today’s boomers want to admit it or not.

I will say, I have read a bit on the issue, which has helped me form some of my beliefs some. By far the most relevant bit I’ve read thus far was one written by Armstrong et al. entitled “Is hooking up bad for young women?”

http://contexts.org/articles/summer-2010/is-hooking-up-bad-for-young-women/

Succinct and to the point this article got closer to my own struggles between dating and hooking up that I faced in college. Also I should probably just for clarity let you know that by “dating” I mean a long term, monogamous (or mostly so) relationships, and by hooking up I mean some kind of casual sexual encounter, including but not limited to friends-with-benefits, fuck buddies, one-night stands, etc.

In college I attempted one actual relationship by my own definition. It ended badly. I personally found that I didn’t have time for it, not that I was willing to admit that at the time. He was a fuck buddy turned boyfriend, with whom I had nothing in common. Feelings can surface when you see someone, even casually, long term. That doesn’t mean you need to date that person.

Anyway, this relationship didn’t work out. I also didn’t take it well. I am woman enough to admit that I was a bit hysterical (I hate that word) after this breakup. But, I got over it. And after I got over it, I returned to the causal sex culture that permeated my campus. And honestly, I was much happier. That’s not to say I never developed feelings for anyone I was involved with after that, that’s also not to say there was never drama. There was, oh boy was there. But it was all at a safe distance emotionally speaking. I recovered quickly, I stayed focused on school, I developed wonderful friendships, and I graduated.

During my undergraduate years, this way of life kept me happy. However, I can’t argue that the hook up culture is right for everyone. I can’t even argue that it is something that would be right for me anymore- but it was at the time. I have friends who didn’t really involve themselves with men (or women) sexually at all in college, and were perfectly happy. I have other friends who dated monogamously long term who were equally as happy. And I have still other friends who were constantly bouncing from one monogamous boyfriend to another. My point is, it’s different for everyone.

That’s the one piece of advice I have continuously given my friends. I had more than one person in undergrad tell me that they admired my blasé attitude towards men and relationships. To them I say- I often admired your relationships. Those relationships just were not things that I could manage at the time. Similarly, some friends attempted to be reckless and wild, and pursue their own casual sexual experiences. I don’t begrudge anyone who wants to experiment, but I think it is important to know yourself before you do so.

Male or female, the hook up culture is not right or healthy for everyone. I have seen more than one friend attempt it only to be crushed later when they realized they weren’t capable of sex without commitment, and couldn’t handle not getting a phone call the next day.

And that’s the hard truth of it. In the casual sex universe, the one rule is- there are no rules. And that’s not for everyone. Sure you can call your beau the next day, but you cannot be sure they will respond. That’s the bitch of it. They might want to canoodle with you again. Then again, they might not. And unless you discussed it beforehand, there really is no ensuring that they will. And you need to brace yourself for this possibility.

Casual sex can be empowering. It can also be lonely. It can be a wonderful way to find yourself and what you like in and out of the bedroom. It can also be awkward and sometimes even dangerous. Assuming your safe in your pursuits, it can be somewhat of an adventure. Sexual encounters with people that you just don’t give a shit about leave you with more freedom to step outside the box, and try some kinky shit. It can be fun. It can sadly also for women leave somewhat to be desired in the orgasm department

It’s pretty well established that its easier for a woman to have an orgasm with someone she cares for, who cares for her, or who at the very least knows her body and what she likes. More often than not, a one-night stand will not meet any of these criteria. The same freedom that leaves you more willing to try some new and adventurous things, leaves your partner less likely to give two-shits whether or not you come to fruition. It’s not a perfect arrangement.

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But, as was my experience, an ending hook up is a hell of a lot easier to get over than a full blown break-up. They also, at least in theory, take up less time. I never had any friends complaining that I was blowing them off constantly for a guy. I never had to choose between a date and studying. I could blow someone off easily without regret. It can be great.

But once again, it’s all about knowing yourself, knowing your limits, and knowing your needs. For me, that was the best part. I learned what I needed in a relationship. I kissed a whole lot of frogs during my time as an undergrad. It left me with more experience, and let me consider what I would really want and need in an actual relationship.

I’m far from fully developed emotionally in my relationships, but I think after kissing so many frogs I am far better equipped at spotting the good ones- the good ones for me anyway. This casual dating environment let me explore myself without risking too much heartbreak. And while I have left those hazy-crazy nights behind, I don’t’ regret them. I’m not ashamed of them. I understand love and sex more because of them. I understand myself more because of them.

Further Reading

http://msmagazine.com/blog/blog/2012/08/28/are-friends-with-benefits-really-friends/

http://lisawadedotcom.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/wade-heldman-2012-hooking-up-and-opting-out2.pdf

http://jezebel.com/5959165/researchers-shocked-to-find-that-hookup-culture-is-bullshit

http://www.amazon.com/Unhooked-Young-Women-Pursue-Delay/dp/1594482845

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